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CFC18 - Team Manager’s Report

With several key fencers unable to make the journey to Australia, we knew we weren’t going to replicate the fantastic medal haul from the last Commonwealth Championships in 2014. In addition, with all the top Australians involved, a decent turnout from Canada, full strength squads from England and Scotland, and India continuing their rapid improvement, this was one of the toughest fields I have ever seen at this event. All our fencers did themselves great credit and to come away with two bronze medals (Senior Women’s Epee Team and Veterans Women’s Sabre Individual) was a great achievement.


The competition took place in the Australian Institution of Sport in Canberra, which proved an excellent venue and the competition ran extremely smoothly. The only disappointment from a Welsh perspective was that the layout of the hall and the strict rules about only allowing fencers and referees on the floor of the hall meant that our usual very strong piste-side support was confined to the spectator stands. Of course, we still made ourselves heard!! Most of the squad arrived a few days ahead of the competition and had time to get over jet lag, do some light training, and see the sights of Australia’s capital city.

Day 1 - Senior WF, Senior MS, Veteran ME

Day 1 saw Heulwen Hill in action in the individual Women’s Foil event, and James Potter, Nathan Potter and Will Jolley fencing in the Men’s Sabre individual. Heulwen had a really tough poule, which included the eventual gold and bronze medallists and the current UK number one! She didn’t get off to a great start, but found her form with an excellent win over Mullins (England) and a 5-1 victory over Chen (NZ). As 20th seed after the poules she was very unlucky to draw the eventual silver medalist (Ayesha Fihosy, Eng) in the L32, and put up a very decent fight, going down 15-9 in the end.

James got off to a great start in the Sabre, winning all his poule fights, and Will also fenced brilliantly to finish V4D1. Nathan had a tougher time, finishing V2D3. All three got byes straight through to the L32, where James defeated Alex Lemaitre (Guernsey) 15-10. Will as 6th seed was unlucky to draw Pitura (Canada) who had found his form after a poor showing in the poule, and the Canadian’s quick circular parries kept him ahead for a 15-10 victory. Nonetheless finishing 17th in his first Senior Commonwealths is an excellent result for Will and hopefully he will do even better next time. Nathan drew James Edwards (Eng), currently 5th in the UK senior rankings. Edwards had bravely decided to fence on despite breaking his hand in the poules, and Nathan was too much of a gentleman to deliberately “rough it up a bit”, so it was a tense fight with Edwards keeping the distance wide and avoiding blade contact and eventually defeating Nathan 15-10.

In the L16 James Potter as 3rd seed could reasonably have hoped for an easier fight than Karan Singh (India), the eventual bronze medalist. James was very much in the fight, taking a lead and going into the break at 7-8, but the Indian changed his tactics after the break and overpowered James 15-10.

Day 1 also saw the first of the veterans events, a very strong Men’s Epee individual with 56 entries. Neale Thomas did reasonably well in the poules, finishing as 18th seed on V3D2. He edged out Keane (Aus) 9-8 in his first DE fight before going down 10-7 to another Australian (Nonis) in the L32.

The week was rounded off with an excellent evening out, and Will Jolley and Owen Edwards did a very respectable job of eating their “new cap” leeks.

This was my first Commonwealths as a Team Manager (rather than a fencer) and it was great to see the newer team members embracing the Welsh traditions of giving 110% on the piste and 120% in support of their team mates. At one point in the Men’s Sabre Team event, our Aussie opponents remarked “you wouldn’t think we were the home team, would you?” in recognition of the amount of noise the Welsh supporters were making!

I would like to finish by saying a massive Thank You to Tom Edwards, my fellow Team Manager, Lesley Gundry for being chief Cheerleader and Taxi Driver, Neale Thomas for his support and coaching to the Epeeists, Fran Russell for sorting out all the clothing orders, and Welsh Fencing for all the preparatory admin work and the very generous subsidy provided for the event. But most importantly, I would like to thank the fencers themselves and the families who have supported them on this amazing adventure.

The next Commonwealth Senior Championships will be in 2022, most likely somewhere in the UK, and I really feel we have the makings of a great squad who could win many more medals.

Jim Crawfurd

The full set of Welsh results can be found here: Final Results

Full Results and link to videos of the finals available at cfc18.net

Official photos are on the event Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/CFCCanberra2018/

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